Gish, Lillian, 1896-1993, American stage and movie actress, b. Springfield, Ohio. In 1912 she began her film career with D. W. Griffith. A fragile, delicate beauty, Gish often played a heroine rescued from cruel fate at the last moment. For Griffith, she appeared in The Birth of a Nation (1915), Broken Blossoms (1918), Way Down East (1920), and many other films. Possessed of great pantomimic gifts and an expressive face, she brought these qualities to many personally chosen vehicles, including The Scarlet Letter (1926) and The Wind (1928). She returned to the stage (1930), after which she made occasional films, including Night of the Hunter (1955). Her later stage work included acclaimed performances in Hamlet (as Ophelia, 1942), All the Way Home (1960), and Uncle Vanya (1973). She teamed with screen legend Bette Davis in the film The Whales of August (1987). Her sister, Dorothy Gish, 1898-1968, was also an actress, who co-starred with Lillian in such films as Hearts of the World (1918) and Griffith's Orphans of the Storm (1921) and did a good deal of work on the stage.

See Lillian Gish's autobiography (1969, repr. 1988); biography by C. Affron (2000).

Gish is the debut album by American alternative rock band The Smashing Pumpkins. Released in 1991, Billy Corgan described Gish as a "very spiritual album." Despite peaking at only number 195 on the Billboard 200 upon its release, Gish is currently certified platinum. As of May 2005, its US sales stand at 1.1 million.


Gish was recorded from December 1990 to March 1991 in Butch Vig's Smart Studios in Madison, Wisconsin. Whereas many albums at the time used drum sampling and processing, Gish used unprocessed drum recordings, and an exacting, unique guitar sound. The album was recorded quickly by Pumpkins' standards, largely because of the group's inexperience. The recording sessions put an intense strain on the band, with D'arcy later commenting that she didn't know how the band survived it, and Corgan later saying he suffered a nervous breakdown. The recording cost $20,000. James Iha bought his first Gibson Les Paul guitar for the recording of Gish. He used these model guitars almost exclusively until 1998's Adore.

The first mastering of Gish on CD was from Digital Audio Tape and appeared on Caroline Records. In 1994, after the success of follow-up Siamese Dream, the album was given a slight remaster and redesign and was reissued on Virgin Records. Both editions credit Howie Weinberg as mastering engineer.


Gish was recorded towards the end of Billy Corgan's psychedelic influence, while the band's post-punk roots had almost entirely evaporated. It introduced the hard rock sound and heavy dynamic shifts that would characterize later Pumpkins work. The inclusion of a massive production style reminiscent of ELO and Queen was unusual for an indie band at the time.

"I Am One", "Rhinoceros", and "Bury Me" were previously recorded as demos by the band in early 1989. All three songs were re-recorded for Gish. "Daydream" was also recorded during the same sessions. Unlike the other three, the band used the actual demo recording of the song from 1989.

Corgan would later say,

The album is about pain and spiritual ascension. People ask if it's a political album. It's not a political album, it's a personal album. In a weird kind of way, Gish is almost like an instrumental album - it just happens to have singing on it, but the music overpowers the band in a lot of places. I was trying to say a lot of things I couldn't really say in kind of intangible, unspeakable ways, so I was capable of doing that with the music, but I don't think I was capable of doing it with words.


The album was named after silent film icon Lillian Gish. In an interview, Corgan said, "My grandmother used to tell me that one of the biggest things that ever happened was when Lillian Gish rode through town on a train, my grandmother lived in the middle of nowhere, so that was a big deal..." Later, Corgan asserted that the album was originally going to be called "Fish" but was changed to "Gish" to avoid comparisons to jam band Phish.


Gish was met with largely enthusiastic reviews. Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune called Gish "perhaps the most audacious and accomplished" of all 1991 albums released by local bands. Rolling Stone called it "awe-inspiring" with "meticulously calculated chaos" and a "swirling energy. Despite an inauspicious start, the album sold 100,000 copies in less than a year, far exceeding the expectations of indie label Caroline Records. After being reissued on the band's new label Virgin, the album went on to achieve platinum status.

Until The Offspring released Smash in 1994, Gish was the US' best-selling album on an independent label.

Track listing

All songs written by Billy Corgan, except where noted.

  1. "I Am One" (Corgan, James Iha) – 4:07
  2. "Siva" – 4:20
  3. "Rhinoceros" – 6:32
  4. "Bury Me" – 4:48
  5. "Crush" – 3:35
  6. "Suffer" – 5:11
  7. "Snail" – 5:11
  8. "Tristessa" – 3:33
  9. "Window Paine" – 5:51
  10. "Daydream" / "I'm Going Crazy" (hidden track) – 3.08


The following songs are those that were written and recorded for Gish but did not make the final cut. All but two of the tracks were released on future recordings.

  • "Blue" (released on the Lull EP and Pisces Iscariot)
  • "Obscured" (released on Pisces Iscariot)
  • "Slunk" (released on the Lull EP)
  • "Why Am I So Tired?" (released on Earphoria)
  • "Jesus Loves His Babies" (Never officially released, does appear on Mashed Potatoes bootleg, a five disc set assembled by Billy Corgan and given to band and staff as a gift for Christmas 1994)
  • "La Dolly Vita" (originally the B-side to "Tristessa", re-released on Pisces Iscariot)

Chart positions


Year Chart Position
1991 Billboard 200 195


Year Single Chart Position
1991 "Rhinoceros" Modern Rock Tracks 27
1992 "I Am One" UK Singles Chart 73



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